Since 2008, Pirates minor leaguers have spent 23,415 hours working in the community. That's 975 days or over two and a half years of community service hours. All this time spent is part of something called the Pirates Community Commitment Program.
The initiative was aimed to help Pittsburgh's Minor League players get in touch with the communities they're in. The nature of Minor League Baseball pushes players around so frequently that it can be hard for them to feel as though they're a member of a community as opposed to just a nomad. The program was inspired by the late Roberto Clemente.
Pirates Community Commitment Program liaison for West Virginia, Haley Townsend, knows the troubles of running the program for the Power, but also knows the limitless benefits.
"Staying on top of everything can be difficult," Townsend said. "The key is making sure you have enough players to do the events. I think it's a good experience for our players because they get to see what's out in the community and can give back by simply getting involved."
The players in Charleston have an array of community events to choose from throughout the year, including volunteering at the animal shelter or CAMC Women and Children's Hospital, reading and playing at elementary schools and participating in summer camps to name a few. Each player is required to complete a minimum of 10 hours of community service in their respective affiliate locations over the course of each season.
Every year, a player from each minor league affiliate is recognized for exemplifying outstanding community service and commitment. In a rare feat, the West Virginia Power had two award winners in 2016: Daniel Zamora and Seth McGarry. The two Power winners each spent nearly 50 hours doing various events last season. In the oddity, Townsend saw a competition between Zamora and McGarry to see who could do more than the other.
"I'm interested this year to see who the competition is between," Townsend added. The winner for the West Virginia Black Bears in 2016, James Marvel, now plays for the Power. While the season is still young, players have already been participating in community events around Charleston.
In addition to being recognized at Appalachian Power Park, the Pirates fly each award winner to Pittsburgh to receive the award as part of a special on-field ceremony at PNC Park that also includes the presenting of the team's annual Roberto Clemente Award to the Pirates Major League Player selected for his character and charitable contributions to his community.
"I want what's best for [the players] obviously, but I also want to get our name out there," Townsend explained. "Both the Power and Pirates feel that the program benefits everyone with the right mix of helping out teams, communities, and players all at once. Pittsburgh believes in its players contributing to the community at the Major League level, but also believes that the experiences players have while coming up through the minors will make them better men and more likely to make positive contributions when they reach the top."
If you're interested in having Power players involved with your organization, visit the Power website, wvpower.com, and find all the information you need under the community tab. Please allow at least three weeks for scheduling your community event with Power players.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.